Godolphin's Dubawi heads the 22 five-day confirmations for the first classic of the season, the £320,000 UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas, run up the famous Rowley Mile course at Newmarket on Saturday, April 30.
The son of Dubai Millennium has yet to race this year, although he looked impressive in a racecourse gallop at Nad Al Sheba, Dubai on April 11. He was unbeaten in three races last year, including the Group Three Weatherbys Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh.
Godolphin is seeking its third UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas success following Mark Of Esteem (1996) and Islands Sand (1999). The Maktoum family's racing entity could also be represented by Tasdeed, victorious on his sole start at Doncaster last season, and Satchem, a Group Three winner at Kempton in 2005. They were second and third behind Dubawi in the Nad Al Sheba racecourse gallop.
Aidan O'Brien is also after a third win in the UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas and has two to choose from in Footstepsinthesand, winner of both his starts last season, and Oratorio, victorious in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere last season before finishing runner-up Shamardal in the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Sir Michael Stoute has won five UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas, more than any other current trainer, and his representative this year is Rob Roy. The Lear Fan colt won his only start last season at Newmarket before finishing second to Jim Bolger's Democratic Deficit in the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on April 14.
The duo are set to take each other on again at Newmarket on Saturday, along with the next five horses home from the bet365 Craven Stakes - Kandidate, Iceman, Mister Genepi, Forward Move and Montgomery's Arch. Less than three lengths covered the first seven home in the Craven.
Forward Move is owned by the Queen, owner of the 1958 victor Pall Mall, and will be aiming to become the first Royal Classic winner since Dunfermline took the 1977 St Leger.
Other interesting contenders include last season's Somerville Tattersall Stakes winner Diktatorial, bidding to become the first winner owned by a syndicate for Tweenhills Thurloe Racing, last season's Gimcrack Stakes hero Tony James, Party Boss, winner of his last six starts on the all-weather, and Tucker, twice a winner at Newmarket and aiming to give the in-form David Elsworth his first British classic winner.
DAMSON AMONG 23 GOING FORWARD FOR UltimatePoker.com 1000 GUINEAS
Ante-post favourite Damson is among 23 fillies going forward for the £342,500 UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas, which also include one supplementary entry in Market Trend, trained by last year's winning trainer Mark Johnston and an impressive scorer at Kempton on April 2. This has boosted the prize money to £342,500.
Damson, trained in Ireland by David Wachman, won her first four starts last season, including the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, before finishing third to Magical Romance in the Group One Sky Bet Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Godolphin, looking to win a third UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas, has a brace to choose from - Fen Shui and Satin Kiss. The latter has been victorious in both the UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks already this season.
Aidan O'Brien is still seeking his first UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas victory and relies on Virginia Waters, successful on her seasonal debut in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.
Both winners of the two main British 1000 Guineas trials are engaged. Karen's Caper was the triumphant filly in the Group Three Shadwell Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on April 13, when she beat Cape Columbine by three-quarters of a length with Favourita in third.
Penkenna Princess took the Dubai Duty Free (Fred Darling) Stakes at Newbury on April 16 with Echelon in third and Love Thirty in fourth.
Sir Michael Stoute, in search of his third UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas, could have two runners, with Echelon and Shanghai Lily, a facile scorer on both her starts at Newbury last season.
Other contenders include Vista Bella, winner of both her starts this season for Michael Jarvis, and Maids Causeway, successful in the Group Two Owen Brown Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last season.
11 FOR UltimatePoker.com JOCKEY CLUB STAKES
A total of 11 horses have been confirmed for the main supporting race on Sunday, the £90,000 Group Two UltimatePoker.com Jockey Club Stakes.
Included among the 11 are last year's winner and runner-up, Gamut and Warrsan who went record his second success in the Vodafone Coronation Cup at Espom.
The 2000 St Leger winner Millenary, also successful in the UltimatePoker.com Jockey Club Stakes back in 2001, could make his seasonal debut in this contest along with High Accolade.
Godolphin may be represented by Razkalla, second to Phoenix Reach in the Group Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba last month, while Aidan O'Brien still has Yeats, not seen out since winning the Derrinstown Derby Trial last season, engaged.
REVISED RACE PROGRAMME ON SUNDAY
Sunday's UltimatePoker.com Guineas Festival card has undergone two late changes. A new race, a £20,000 two mile handicap for four-year-olds and up rated 76-95, has been added as an eighth race at 5.40pm to compensate for a race lost from Ripon's card last Saturday when heavy going restricted the Yorkshire track to sprint races only.
Meanwhile, the UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas and UltimatePoker.com Jockey Club Stakes have switched places, with the Classic now being run at the later time of 3.25pm, preceded by the Jockey Club Stakes at 2.45pm.
The full programme for both days is below:
Saturday, April 30
2.05 £20,000 Countrywide Steel & Tubes Rated Stakes (4-y-o+, 0-100) 1m 2f
2.35 £50,000 VCBet Palace House Stakes (Group 3) (3-y-o+) 5f
3.15 £320,000 UltimatePoker.Com 2000 Guineas (Group 1) (3-y-o) 1m
3.45 £50,000 Ladbrokes Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (3-y-o+, 0-95) 6f
4.20 £28,000 McKeever St Lawrence Newmarket Stakes (Listed) (3-y-o) 1m 2f
4.55 £20,000 Ruinart Conditions Stakes (4-y-o+) 1m 2f
5.30 £20,000 Curragh Home of the Irish Classics' Handicap (4-y-o+, 0-100) 1m
*Day Members £35
*Grandstand & Paddock £20
Family Enclosure £7
*10% discount applies for booking online by Thursday 28th April at www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk
STAGE SET FOR TREMENDOUS PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL
Four superb days of racing are in prospect this week at the Irish National Hunt Festival, beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) at Punchestown with a string of star names set to line up to compete for the EUR2.1 million in prize money on offer.
Tomorrow sees one of the greatest modern-day performers, Moscow Flyer, bidding to become the first horse ever to land the treble of Cheltenham's Queen Mother Champion Chase, Aintree's John Smith's Melling Chase and the Grade 1 KERRYGOLD CHAMPION CHASE at Punchestown in the same season. Jessica Harrington's star faces six rivals in tomorrow's race, run at 3.10pm
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Quazar - who has twice won over hurdles at the Punchestown Festival - is one of eight in the Grade 2 ELLIER DEVELOPMENTS NOVICE CHASE (3.45pm) and bids to follow up on an impressive victory at Cheltenham earlier this month.
The highly-regarded pair Publican and Wild Passion are among eight set to go to post in the Grade 1 EVENING HERALD CHAMPION HURDLE (2.35pm) while the EUR75,000 TOTE IRELAND 75TH ANNIVERSARY HANDICAP HURDLE (4.20pm) has attracted a maximum field of 25.
Wednesday's PUNCHESTOWN GUINNESS GOLD CUP (3.45pm) promises to be one of the highlights of the season featuring a clash between Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King, the Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff and Rule Supreme, who has not run over fences since winning the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.
The EUR100,000 Grade 1 PADDY POWER INH FLAT RACE (4.55pm) - the richest unrestricted bumper ever run in Europe - on Wednesday is set to feature a mouthwatering clash between Missed That, winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, and The Cool Guy, Nigel Twiston-Davies's winner of Aintree's championship National Hunt Flat Race.
The concluding COX'S CASH & CARRY CHAMPION HUNTERS' CHASE (6.05pm) is set to feature Katarino, winner of Aintree's John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase.
The great mare Solerina, who has not raced over hurdles since February, is among those due to contest Thursday's BALLYMORE PROPERTIES CHAMPION STAYERS' HURDLE (4.20pm) while new sponsor Blue Square is offering a EUR50,000 bonus if Spot Thedifference wins the BLUE SQUARE CHASE FOR THE LA TOUCHE CUP (2.35pm) over Punchestown's unique banks course again. The bonus was put up for any horse who wins Cheltenham's Sporting Index Cross-Country Chase and the Blue Square Chase.
The Grade 1 COLM MCEVOY AUCTIONEERS CHAMPION 4YO HURDLE (3.10pm) could see the Howard Johnson-trained Akilak have his first start since finishing third in Cheltenham's JCB Triumph Hurdle with his opponents likely to include Lucy Wadham's unbeaten mare United and the Michael O'Brien-trained Levitator, who made an impressive winning hurdling debut at Fairyhouse last month.
The Grade 1 SWORDLESTOWN CUP NOVICE CHASE (3.45pm) is set to feature J P McManus's Fota Island, a winner at both Cheltenham and Aintree this season, with the Mouse Morris-trained War Of Attrition another possible starter.
Friday's feature event is the Grade 1 EMO OIL CHAMPION HURDLE (3.10pm) in which Smurfit Champion Hurdle second Harchibald is due to reappear against rivals including the Cheltenham third and fourth, Brave Inca and Accordion Etoile, along with Grade 1 Aintree hurdle winner Al Eile.
The EUR100,000 betfair.com NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE (3.45pm) is set to feature an intriguing clash between Numbersixvalverde and Joes Edge, respectively winners of the Irish and Scottish Grand Nationals, while the Grade 1 MENOLLY HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE (4.20pm) could see Aintree winner Asian Maze in action against the likes of Brewster and Royal Paradise.
Despite the strength of Irish racing, over 30 different British and French trainers have horses declared at the five-day stage this week. These range from the big stables such as Martin Pipe, Nicky Henderson, Jonjo O'Neill, Howard Johnson, Philip Hobbs, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Venetia Williams to many smaller yards.
Janet Williamson, PR Manager at Punchestown Racecourse, said today: "Everything is in place for four excellent days of racing and we are delighted with the entries. As well as locally-trained stars such as Kicking King, Moscow Flyer and Harchibald we look forward to welcoming runners from a huge variety of overseas trainers.
"Advance sales for this year's Festival have been excellent but tickets will be available for purchase on each of the four days."
SALISBURY SET FAIR FOR 2005
£1 million new facility to be officially opened on June 23
Salisbury's 2005 season gets off to a flying start with its traditional curtain-raiser, the Family Fun Day on Sunday, May 1 and this season promises to be very exciting with improved facilities at the racecourse due to open shortly.
A new £1 million building is nearing completion and will incorporate a new Owners & Trainers bar, improved Tote betting facilities, two new corporate suites and an open-terraced roof bar. The building is due to be officially opened on Thursday, June 23 by a "Racing Legend" - who will be revealed nearer the time.
It was hoped that the new building would be open in time for the start of the new season, although unfortunately this will now not be the case. Clerk of the Course Jeremy Martin explained: "This was always a tight schedule and we have not quite managed it. The building has to be right before it is officially handed over and should be ready for use very soon - either at our second or third fixture. It is does not affect our ability to race on Sunday, May 1, and we are looking forward to getting underway again."
The 2004 season was not the greatest for the racecourse, as three racedays were lost through waterlogging, including the transferred fixture from Ascot, and the weather was fairly poor overall. However, there were the usual nice bunch of winning two-year-olds including Suez, victorious in the Listed Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes before finishing runner-up in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, and Godolphin's Perfectperformance, who won twice at Salisbury before landing the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot. In addition, the highlight of the season, the £60,000 totesport Sovereign Stakes won by Norse Dancer in a thrilling finish from Lucky Story, was the highest-rated Group Three race in the country last year. This was especially pleasing as 2004 was the first year that the contest had been run with Group Three status, having previously been a Listed race.
In total, there are 16 days of racing in 2005 at Salisbury, with the main highlights being the "Salisbury Splendour - Summer Festival" on Wednesday and Thursday, August 10 and 11, when the feature will again be the £60,000 Group Three totesport Sovereign Stakes. Salisbury's final meeting of the year on October 8 is set to be a transferred fixture from Ascot.
Sunday, May 1 features a six-race programme and starts with the £20,000-added betfair.com HANDICAP (2.25pm) over six furlongs. This is the richest contest of the afternoon and will also be broadcast live on Channel 4. The second race of the day is the £7,500-added BUTLER & CO RACING POST TAX TIPS MAIDEN STAKES (3.00pm), over six furlongs. Two-year-old fillies get their chance to shine in race three, the £10,000-added DELTA DANCER & CATISFIELD STUD FILLIES' CONDITIONS STAKES (3.35pm) over five furlongs. There is further competitive handicap action in the fourth race of the day, the £10,000-added LINES WILSON TAX ADVISERS HANDICAP (4.10pm) over a mile and a quarter while there could be some informative clues in the fifth race of the day, the £7,500-added BRYANT HOMES AT SALISBURY MAIDEN STAKES (4.45pm) over a mile and a half. Last season this was won by the John Gosden-trained Day Flight, who went on to finish fourth in the French Derby and has won both his starts this year, including the Group Three John Porter Stakes at Newbury. Bringing the racing action to a close is the £10,000-added betfairpoker.com HANDICAP (5.15pm) over a mile and six furlongs.
Clerk of the Course, Jeremy Martin said: "Our May 1 Sunday is a real family day and there is always a great atmosphere.
"We are also delighted that the £20,000 highlight, the betfair.com Handicap Stakes, is being shown live on Channel 4 Racing. The giant screen will be here and gates open at 11.00am."
Admission prices on May 1 are Members' Enclosure £18, Tattersalls Enclosure £11 and Course Enclosure £6. Accompanied children under 16 are admitted free and all car parking is free.
DIKTATORIAL IS ONE OF THREE GUINEAS CONTENDERS SET TO REPRESENT TWEENHILLS
Tweenhills - the bloodstock and ownership group run by David Redvers - is set to be represented by three Guineas prospects, purchased for an average price of less than £40,000.
In the UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas on Saturday, DIKTATORIAL has every chance, having worked very well in a recent racecourse gallop at Newbury, really pleasing trainer Andrew Balding and big race jockey Martin Dwyer.
This colt by Diktat was purchased by David Redvers Bloodstock at the Tattersalls October Sale for 45,000 guineas and runs for the Tweenhills Thurloe Syndicate.
He has done exceptionally well during the winter following his Group 3 Somerville Stakes win as a two-year-old.
David Redvers, syndicate manager, said: "His Group 3 win at Newmarket last autumn showed that he handles the track and, for a big weak baby, he showed a tremendous attitude.
"His recent racecourse work at Newbury has caused us all to get rather excited, and Andrew reported that he worked well at home on the gallops on Saturday."
The filly PENKENNA PRINCESS looks a strong contender for Sunday's UltimatePoker.com 1000 Guineas following her recent Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (Fred Darling Stakes) win at Newbury.
By Pivotal, she was a 60,000 guineas purchase by David Redvers Bloodstock at the DBS Doncaster Breeze-Up Sales. Owned by Mrs Helen Chamberlain, she was the first Group winner for trainer Ralph Beckett, having already provided him with his first Stakes success when winning the Listed Finnforest Oh So Sharp Stakes as a two-year-old.
The third Guineas prospect is JOHNNY JUMPUP who is entered in the German 2,000 Guineas. He is another successful result of the partnership between David Redvers and trainer Ralph Beckett.
Second in the Group 3 Lane's End Greenham Stakes at Newbury, he was purchased by David Redvers Bloodstock for only 11,000 guineas from Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. David Redvers, Tweenhills director, said: "These Guineas prospects show that you do not have to spend a fortune to own a top-class racehorse. We certainly have an exciting few weeks ahead."
In addition, the dam of another UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas runner Pivotal Flame, Reddening, was also purchased by David Redvers in-foal to Pivotal at the December Sales for 18,000 guineas.
For more information on Tweenhills visit www.tweenhills.com.